Public universities in Germany are (almost) free. Just about everyone knows that by now. Even foreigners are eligible to study for free in Germany. Even if you only have to pay a couple hundred Euro per semester for school, however, there are still other costs to consider before applying to German universities.
To help people figure out just how much studying in Germany costs, here is a look at my finances and how I afford to live in Germany while getting my Master’s degree.
The BBC published an article in June 2015 about how American students finance their studies in Germany. Here is the their breakdown of 3 students’ monthly expenses:
As you can immediately see from the first row, rent varies A LOT from city to city. So, you should always research rent prices for any city you are considering. Beware: many of the post popular cities for studying (e.g. Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main, Freiburg, Heidelberg) also boast the highest rent prices in the country.
In general, both smaller cities and cities in Eastern Germany will have lower rent prices. So, if you choose to study in a small city in Eastern Germany like Cottbus, then you can get away with paying only €200 for rent. If you choose to study and live in Munich, a city boasting the highest rent prices in Germany, then expect to pay at least €500 per month (read about Alex Butts costs of living in Munich
). The average monthly rent for a student living in a shared apartment, however, is about €300.
German public health insurance
for students is about €80, which is actually a great deal. If you are American, it may take awhile to get used to regularly visiting the doctor and not paying a dime in co-pays and whatnot.
Although public universities do not charge tuition, they do still charge a semester fee. The amount varies according to university, but it is generally between €100 and €400 per semester, including a transportation ticket. Although the table above says the amounts include transportation, I highly doubt that. Divide €250 (the average semester fee with transportation ticket) by 6 (a semester lasts 6 months), then you would have about €40 per month.
How far the transportation ticket will get you also depends on your university. However, it will at least be good for taking the local buses and trains. Since my university is in Niedersachsen, for example, I can take any public transit within the state of Niedersachsen with my student ticket.
Obviously this amount varies according to the person, but €150 per month is about average.
Obviously, a lot of things are missing on this list (i.e. phone bill, books, gym, etc.). For people that already live on their own, however, you should already be able to roughly estimate these miscellaneous costs. Just remember to take everything into account.
My Monthly Finances
I live in a smaller city (pop. 100,000), where rent prices are a little bit lower than average. €300 is the average monthly rent for a shared apartment here.
Health Insurance: €80
Not getting around that.
Semester Fee: €55
The semester fee is relatively expensive at my university (€330 per semester). But like I said before, it does include the transportation ticket.
Note that I generally only shop at discount grocery stores, so that helps keep this number down.
Phone: €5 + €11
I pay €5 for my landline, which includes a free international calling. I also pay €11/month for my 2-year cell phone conttract. This contract included my phone (Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini), 200 MB data, 100 minutes, and 100 text messages.
My total cost of living per month comes out to about €600. If you read my post about working as a foreign student in Germany
, you will know that this is also about how much I make per month by working 15 hours/week at the university. There are obviously miscellaneous costs that come up each month as well, but this is why I worked and saved in the U.S. before making the choice to study in a foreign country.
Although it’s not easy, it is possible to work alongside your studies to finance your education in Germany. However, a student job is not always easy to find, and you cannot rely on finding one. Therefore, I highly suggest doing your research and making sure that you can afford to live and study in Germany (even without a job) before committing to a program.
Remember, Germany will subsidize your education, but they won’t pay your rent. Do your research and be prepared.